Designing a user-centred methodological framework to enhance digital literacy among rural communities: a Kenyan case study

Oguna, Cynthia (2024) Designing a user-centred methodological framework to enhance digital literacy among rural communities: a Kenyan case study. Doctoral thesis, Northumbria University.

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To participate effectively today, it is becoming critical that everyone is digitally literate. This can be viewed as the baseline level of computer science education. There have been several frameworks developed over the years relating to digital literacy and what this should encompass. But much less attention has been given to how to embed this within a specific community. Simultaneously many governments in developing countries have digital technologies as a core part of their strategy, with an accompanying plan to upskill their citizens. However, many of these initiatives still rely on a centralized organisation delivering digital literacy to the community, with little involvement or understanding of that community in the design and rollout of these initiatives. As a result, many of these initiatives are not as effective as they could be.

The Kenyan government has been pushing for digital literacy in rural areas to bridge the digital divide and for equal access to online government services. Despite the government’s efforts, the uptake is slow, and people seem to shy away from acquiring digital skills. Constituency Innovation Hubs (CIHs) is a project by the Kenyan government to establish digital hubs in each of its constituencies to promote digital literacy and to bridge the digital divide between the urban and rural areas. Each CIH provides digital equipment with free IT and Internet access for the local community and forms a central part of the government’s agenda to transform Kenya into an information society, preparing its citizens for a digital economy. The main emphasis has been on the implementation of the hubs with little consideration for their ongoing maintenance and support, leading many of them to underperform or fail.

A sample size of 76 residents of the Ndhiwa constituency in Kenya participated in this study through interviews and focus groups to give an overview of their understanding of digital literacy and their take on the digital literacy framework. This study aimed to explore how to change this approach to provide a framework that puts the community at the centre of a digital literacy development program. The researcher has developed this framework based on their experience of working with a rural community in Kenya and the findings from the data collected. The research outlines the issues with current practice, the background information that has informed the design and approach of, the framework and then the framework itself. This framework is a useful tool for guiding those looking to develop digital literacy initiatives within different types of communities.

This study also outlines the community’s understanding of digital literacy from a Kenyan rural community, their perception of access and usage of digital devices and how covid 19 has influenced these perceptions. The thematic analysis applied to the resulting data identified several key challenges: infrastructure, lack of knowledge, understanding of digital literacy, motivation and trust among users, and inadequate levels of tutor and technical support. This study recommends it is critical to work in partnership with each community to ensure the CIH is sustainable and meets that community’s needs.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: digital hubs, telecentres, digital education, digital inclusion
Subjects: G400 Computer Science
Department: Faculties > Engineering and Environment > Computer and Information Sciences
University Services > Graduate School > Doctor of Philosophy
Depositing User: John Coen
Date Deposited: 07 Jun 2024 07:39
Last Modified: 07 Jun 2024 07:42

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